Breeding latitude drives individual schedules in a trans-hemispheric migrant bird

first_imgDespite clear benefits of optimal arrival time on breeding grounds, migration schedules may vary with an individual bird’s innate quality, non-breeding habitat or breeding destination. Here, we show that for the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri), a shorebird that makes the longest known non-stop migratory flights of any bird, timing of migration for individual birds from a non-breeding site in New Zealand was strongly correlated with their specific breeding latitudes in Alaska, USA, a 16,000-18,000 km journey away. Furthermore, this variation carried over even to the southbound return migration, 6 months later, with birds returning to New Zealand in approximately the same order in which they departed. These tightly scheduled movements on a global scale suggest endogenously controlled routines, with breeding site as the primary driver of temporal variation throughout the annual cycle.last_img read more